How safe are your internet browsers? If you’re using Google and Microsoft, chances are that you’re not as safe as you may think according to a recent study by FraudLogix.
Microsoft and Google are contesting the findings presented by fraud detection company FraudLogix regarding their study conducted earlier this year. The findings state that internet users who surf the net using Microsoft and Google browsers have a higher fraud rate compared to surfers using other browsers.
How Browser Fraud Occurs
Some fraudsters can use a consumer’s web browser to make money. This is done by infecting susceptible browsers with malicious codes to make them load up certain webpages containing ads. The real advertisers lose because they are basically paying for ads that no one will truly see except if you count views by bots.
To find out the role of browsers in this, FraudLogix scrutinized a sample of 135 million single online ad impressions over a course of a full week back in July. They then analyzed the browsers to which the ads loaded or played up. They also tracked parts of those ads that were delivered to bots on non-human traffic.
The study found that the most number of fraudulent impressions were loaded up in versions of Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
They also found out that half or 50% of ad impressions served to Internet Explorer were served to non-human traffic. Non-human traffic received a significant number of ad impressions to Google Chrome, netting 20.5% of impressions over the study period.
Google and Microsoft raised some questions regarding the methodology applied in FraudLogix’s study, saying that accurate measurement of fraud isn’t possible at the browser level. Microsoft said that malware and bots often fake user agent strings to create fake traffic and that this cannot be attributed to a specific browser. Google also said that malware infects any device or web browser and that an infected machine will act as a bot and use or impersonate any browser. They added that this occurs even if the malware isn’t installed in the device; hence, a per browser measurement of ad fraud will not really give answers.
The Root of the Matter
Hagai Shechter, FraudLogix’s Chief Executive says that although infected computers may impersonate browsers, they do not believe that this happened in a majority of instances tracked over the course of the study.
Shechter also added that it could be possible that instances of fraud were found to be higher in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer because they have a high usage rate amongst consumers. Browsers with fewer users may be more vulnerable but because they have fewer users, they aren’t an attractive target for fraudsters.
It is to be noted that of all the traffic FraudLogix examined in their study, 61% was from Google Chrome and 16.2% was from Internet Explorer.
FraudLogix also examined the impressions on Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft’s Edge but less than 5% of impressions to those browsers were found to be fraudulent by FraudLogix.
FraudLogix shared that newer versions of Chrome have significantly lower fraud impressions, suggesting that Google is fixing vulnerabilities and that the versions with highest fraudulent impressions are outdated versions.
The Association of National Advertisers released a study which estimates that advertisers will lose about $7 billion on ads that no human will see this year. To make matters worse, users have no idea that this is going on because webpages can load in the background without them noticing.